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Month in the Hive – October

 

Autumn’s cool weather is settling in, which means it’s time for West Michigan beekeepers to maintain their beehives throughout the fall months and begin the winterizing process.

Bees residing in regions that accumulate more snow and tend to experience longer winters, like West Michigan, will need food to survive the upcoming cold winter months. For area beekeepers, we recommend taking off supers – leaving single or double deeps as the bees will naturally gravitate to the upper box.

Since bees keep the hive toasty and warm during the winter, with temps reaching over 90 degrees, condensation will collect inside, which is deadly for bees. Here are a few tricks to keep your bees snug during the winter without the deadly condensation.

1: Add a firing strip under the back side of your hive to tilt the box forward slightly and encourage condensation to drip down the inner front box to the bottom board and not on the bees.

2: Be sure the hive is ventilated properly. Add a riser on top to make room for adding food patties – those can go right on top of your frames if they are solid. We also suggest adding a piece of wax or parchment paper down first to keep any of the food from dripping or dropping. The bees will be fine eating through it or going around it for their food.

3. Add a quilt box with some wood shavings or other absorbent material on top of your riser/food to help control the moisture. We recommend putting the inner and outer cover back on and adding an extra brick on top to keep the top secure. Some beekeepers wrap their hives in roofing paper or add a manufactured hive wrap or insulation. Just be careful not to make it too warm or air tight, which causes the condensation. As long as your hive is well ventilated, you should be all good.

4. Turn your entrance reducer up to the smallest opening that can be used. Because many bees often die throughout the winter, you don’t want the dead bees blocking the entrance. Next, add a mouse guard to keep those cute, but destructive creatures out of the hive.


5. Inspect your bees. This may sound like a simple task, but it is an important one for beekeepers in October. As you examine your beehive, you can determine what condition your bees are in and whether they’re prepared for the winter ahead.

6. Most importantly: Enjoy your honey harvest and share your makings!

Happy (soon-to-be) Winter!

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Watch GLBC’s Genji Leclair make Habanero Honey Margarita and Healthy Honey Ball on Good Day Northern Michigan

 

In celebration of National Honey Month this September, Great Lakes Bee Co. Owner Genji Leclair recently shared her Habanero Honey Margarita and Healthy Honey Ball recipes on Good Day Northern Michigan on 9&10 News.

“Margaritas are basically just citrus and tequila, so you can get creative in how you make it,” Leclair told Good Day Northern Michigan hosts Sid Simone and David Lyden as she began mixing grapefruit, lime, lemon and orange juices with tequila. “What makes ours special is the habanero honey – it’s a great alternative to sugar.”

Great Lakes Bee Co. – producer of Hasselman’s Honey – was founded by Larry Hasselman in Newaygo in 1974. Leclair, who grew up on honey, took over for Hasselman when he retired eight years ago.

“I’m a honey person. When I moved to Newaygo, I popped into the local grocery store and bought the local honey. When I tasted the honey, I had to call Larry to find out why this honey was so good,” Leclair said during the live Good Day Northern Michigan segment. “From there I learned all about the honey.

“We do it exactly the same way as Larry’s done since 1974,” Leclair added. “We’ve changed nothing. It’s all delicately handled. We don’t overheat the honey at all – it’s raw right out of the hives and it’s very special because the microclimate in Newaygo is very unique with an unusual blend of flowers. We only collect and sell the honey from summer – and so you have this crazy good taste that’s different – very different. It’s just amazing honey out of Newaygo.”

For the Healthy Honey Ball
• Leclair recommends having a base, such as oats (grinded) and a nut butter – peanut butter, almond butter or cashew butter.
• Then pick what you would want to mix in: cacao, turmeric, cinnamon, chocolate chips, cranberry, raisins, apricots, etc.
• Mix together – then add the secret ingredient: Honey
• Stir and roll it into a ball with your hands, then roll a topping like, coconut shavings or pecans or other nuts, over your ball and voila!

Charcuterie, Cheese or Fruit Board
• Add honey to enhance your charcuterie, cheese or fruit board flavors and pairings
• Blue cheese pairs well with honeycomb
• Goat cheese pairs well with lavender honey
• Leclair recommends playing around with different flavors of honey: pepper honey, habanero honey, etc.

“There are different flavors in the region depending on the floral sources,” said Leclair. “You can go to northern Michigan and you’ll get a lot of star thistle, which is a little bit lighter honey, and as you head down south, you get different types of flowers so you’ll get darker and different blends. It’s fun to taste honey from all regions. I really enjoy honey – people send me honey from all over the world and it’s just crazy how different they taste from region to region.

“Even just here in Michigan, across the state from north to south, you’ll get different honey and its different in the spring than it is in the summer and the fall. You’ll get a great experience tasting honey all over the world, but especially here in Michigan, we just have a lot of flavors.”

Great Lakes Bee Co.’s Hasselman’s Honey can be found at Whole Foods Grand Rapids, Spice Merchants inside Downtown Market in Grand Rapids, Rockford Cheese Shop; and in area Spartan Stores soon. It’ll also be available at West Michigan Meijer stores starting in mid-October. All honey products, including beeswax, candles, balms, salves, can also be found line at www.GreatLakesBeeCo.com

Watch Genji Leclair’s full interview on Good Day Northern Michigan, here.

 

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Month in the Hive – September

 

West Michigan bees have had a busy couple months making honey, and now it’s time for beekeepers to cash in on the gooey sweetness.

September is National Honey Month, or as beekeepers call it, “Harvest Month.” It’s a beekeeper’s favorite time of year as they visit their colonies and reap the benefits from the beehive’s work throughout the past couple of months.

Experts recommend that beekeepers harvest their honey crop when the hive is full of capped honey – or when a cell is completely covered in white wax and honey is not visible. In Michigan, this can happen anytime toward the end of August through the first frost – usually in early October.

Begin your honey harvest by clearing the honeybees off of the frames, then scraping the wax capping from the top of the honeycomb. (Don’t throw away the wax! You can do so much with beeswax – more on that later.) Once the wax has been removed, you are ready to extract the honey.

Trained beekeepers often use an extracting machine to get the honey out of the comb and into a jar. This helps to preserve the comb so the bees can still use it and fill it back up with honey.

If you don’t have a honey extractor, no problem. One of the more common ways to extract honey without an extractor is to crush and drain the comb. Using common household items, such as a wooden spoon or potato masher, mash the comb in a clean bucket and then strain it through a colander or smaller kitchen strainer.

We recommend feeding bees over winter and checking the sugar patties from time to time to make sure they have food.
Enjoy your freshly harvested honey by the spoonful or drizzled on top of your favorite dish!

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GLBC’s honey products now available at Whole Foods Market in Grand Rapids

You know that delicious Hasselman’s Honey and honey infusions we make? You can now purchase them at the new Whole Foods Market in metro Grand Rapids!

Whole Foods Market opened its first West Michigan store on Aug. 16 and features a variety of local products, including Hasselman’s Honey from The Great Lakes Bee Company. Our unprocessed, raw and unfiltered honey is collected from hives around Newaygo County, a region that specializes in honey production due to its unique environment that GLBC bees forage on, producing 150,000 pounds of Michigan honey each year.

As a local Whole Foods Market vendor, you can find GLBC’s Hasselman’s Honey, including comb honey and 3 oz. flavored honey infusions available for purchase inside the new store, 2897 Radcliff Ave SE, in Kentwood. Our honey products are currently located in the produce section, aisle four, and register seven in the check-out lanes.

If you’re as thrilled as we are about having GLBC’s Hasselman’s hometown honey in Whole Foods Market, the world’s leading natural and organic grocer, buzz on over to the store in Grand Rapids and check it out!

In the Media: 

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Month in the Hive – July

 

Now that you have your bees and they have been pollinating the flowers and trees the past few months, it’s time to stand back and let them make that delicious honey!

July is honey-making month, so it’s a good time to let the bees be as they work their honey magic. You do, however, want to keep an eye out for any swarms during this time. When this happens, the reigning queen and about half the bees will rush out of the hive entrance together, clustering on a tree limb or another similar object. This is called swarming, and usually only lasts for an hour or so as the bees look for a new home. Once the bees have found a new location, the cluster breaks up and the bees fly to their new hive.

The bees that did not leave the hive continue their work in the colony, collecting nectar and pollen and building honey combs. Within the colony, a new queen emerges and looks for rival queens. A fight-to-the-death combat ensues until there is only one surviving queen. Once the new queen has mated, she begins to lay eggs and the cycle begins again.

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Month in the Hive – March

March is here! This is an integral time for the health of your bees. Just because the temperature is increasing, doesn’t mean your bees will survive. You’ll likely see lots of bee deaths this month, so it’s important to check the hive and clear out the dead bees to ensure proper ventilation into the hive. A good time to check on the bees is on the days when the temperature hits 50 F.

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The Declaration – St. Paddy’s Day Cocktail

For this year’s St.Paddy’s Day, up your mixology game with this Irish cocktail. What makes the drink Irish? Well Irish whiskey, of course! This cocktail is sure to help you celebrate the holiday without all the shots of Jägermeister. Prefer a botanical taste to your cocktails? Check out our recipe for The Irish Maid, which uses elderflower liquor for a light, herbal essence.

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Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Chocolate does more than make our bellies happy. It also makes our brains happy! That’s right, dark chocolate has the ability to increase serotonin in the brain due to its chemical make-up of tryptophan (amino acid that helps make serotonin), phenylethylalanine (natural anti-depressant), and theobromine (mood relaxer and stress reliever). The increase is serotonin leads to a good mood and reduction of stress. Thanks to dark chocolate’s mood enhancing properties, chocolate can even reportedly reduce symptoms of depression. In one study of over 13,000 adults, individuals who reported eating dark chocolate within 2 days had 70% less likelihood of reporting symptoms of depression compared to those who didn’t eat any chocolate.

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Health Benefits of Rose

Rose petals have a long history of being used in homeopathic medicine. Today, roses still offer incredible health benefits, and we even create infused honey flavors from it. Roses can be turned into rose tea, rose hip oil, rosewater, essentials oils, and more.

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